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We aren’t in danger of losing our home.

Hubby’s job is secure (at least for now.)

We don’t have to go to bed hungry every night.

But our money isn’t going as far as it should. Hubby makes decent money but yet at the end of every week, there’s not as much money left as we’d hope. We have four kids that need to go to college and hopefully someday we’ll be able to enjoy hubby’s retirement. We need to get a grip on this whole financial thing. Now. Before it becomes an emergency.

We made some choices long ago that will help make this transition a little easier.

  • We drive older cars. The insurance is less and we don’t have to have a monthly car payment.
  • We bought “less” house than we could have. “Less”, according to the bank and the real estate agents must mean that a two-story house with 3 bedrooms and two baths, two+ acres, a two-car garage, a barn and a storage shed is not enough space for two parents and one young child. We bought based on what we could afford on hubby’s salary so that I wasn’t going to have to work simply to support the house.
  • I shop garage sales when I can. I worked in a good department store during college so I know good, quality brands when I see them. A good percentage of my daughters’ wardrobes comes from consignment stores and garage sales. Gap Kids, Limited Too, Abercrombie & Fitch, Tommy Hilfiger … all looking like new and picked up for pennies on the dollar.
  • We don’t use credit cards. At. All. If we can’t afford to pay cash for it, we don’t need it.
  • I enjoy cooking so I cook almost all of our meals at home. We rarely eat out and when we do it’s a special event, not something taken for granted and forgotten a few hours later.

We’re lucky. Very lucky. In December 2001, hubby was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). AML is an aggressive form of luekemia that doesn’t offer a very good prognosis. Of all the other AML patients we met during the 18 months that hubby battled this horrible disease, Hubby is the only survivor. Right before hubby was diagnosed we discovered that I was pregnant with our fourth child. It was a pretty traumatic time for all of us. As the saying goes, when it rains it pours. At the end of my pregnancy, I developed my own life-threatening condition, Peripartum Cardiomyopathy. My heart became enlarged and was unable to pump, thrusting me into congestive heart failure and into a stay in the ICU.

I’ll say it again: We were lucky. Hubby went into remission and has reached the point where his doctors have used the “cured” word. It took awhile but my heart is back to normal size and function. Also lucky was the fact that we’d implemented these changes before we got sick. Hubby was unable to work for 18 months. I would have been physically unable to work for at least a year. Hubby had disability insurance that matched his paycheck and since we didn’t have car payments and a house that required my paycheck to maintain, we didn’t have to worry about losing our home. We didn’t have any credit card bills to worry about. At a time when I had plenty of things to worry about, at least money wasn’t one of those things.

This blog is going to be a way for me to document this journey to financial freedom. I plan to explore ways to cut the excess from our grocery budget (and maybe to make a budget while we’re at it!), to provide four kids with all the necessities and luxuries that they deserve, to make our home a beautiful and happy place and to show that you can live the Good Life without spending a lot of money

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Jordan Deatherage  |  June 11, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Hi there,

    My name is Jordan, and I work for Barkley, the PR and ad agency for Success Rice (www.successrice.com). I’ve read about your passion for budget-friendly dinners and wanted to send you the winning recipes from a recent Success Rice contest that asked people to submit their favorite recipe that would feed 4 people for $10 or less. We got so many submissions it was hard to choose!

    I wanted to see what you thought of them, maybe see if you could knock them down to $5, if you were in the mood for a challenge? We will be having this same contest later in the year, so I’ll keep you posted, if you’re interested.

    Thanks and have a great day!
    Jordan

    Consumers Share Recipes that Save Time and Money
    Success® Rice Announces Winners of Feed 4 for $10 Contest

    Houston, Texas (May 19, 2009) – Need a budget-friendly recipe that delivers great taste in minutes? Try these recipes created by consumers who know how to save time and money. The flavorful dishes below won first, second and third place in Success Rice’s recent Feed 4 for $10 contest.
    “We chose the winning recipes based on taste, creativity, appearance and ease of preparation,” said Debbie Jaramillo, test kitchen manager for Success Rice. “All of the recipes are ready in 30 minutes or less, which includes preparation and cooking time.”

    The recipes were created by Success Rice enthusiasts in Oregon, Nebraska and Pennsylvania. The first, second and third place recipes were submitted respectively by Karen B. of McMinnville, Ore., Deborah B. of Omaha, Neb., and Elizabeth H. of West Chester, Pa. To view the seven runners-up, visit http://www.SuccessRice.com/feed4for10.

    Mango Chicken and Rice

    1 bag Success Jasmine Rice or White Rice
    1 tbsp. vegetable oil
    1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
    1/2 cup red onion, diced
    1 red bell pepper, diced
    3/4 cup hot mango chutney
    1 fresh mango, peeled and diced
    1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

    Prepare rice according to package directions. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat, add chicken and cook until the meat is no longer pink in the center. Add red onion and red bell pepper. Cook five minutes. Add mango chutney, mango, cilantro and rice. Stir well and serve. Serves four.

    Zesty Southwest Burgers with Cilantro Slaw

    1 bag Success White Rice or Brown Rice
    1/2 cup ranch salad dressing
    2 cups shredded cabbage
    3 tbsps. cilantro, minced
    1 lb. ground chuck
    2 1/2 tbsps. hot and spicy taco seasoning mix
    2 tbsps. vegetable oil
    4 hamburger buns

    Prepare rice according to package directions. Let cool for five minutes.

    To make cilantro slaw: in large bowl combine ranch salad dressing, cabbage and cilantro. Toss to combine; cover and refrigerate until serving.

    In large bowl, combine rice, ground chuck and taco seasoning mix. Form into four patties sized slightly larger than hamburger buns. Heat vegetable oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add patties and cook to medium well (10 to 12 minutes or until center is 165° F), turning once.

    To serve, on each hamburger bottom bun, place a cooked patty, an equal amount of slaw and top bun. Serves four.

    Creamy Chicken and Rice Popovers

    1 bag Success White Rice or Brown Rice
    non-stick cooking spray
    2 cans (8 oz. each) crescent roll dough
    1 cup cooked chicken, cubed
    1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
    2 tbsps. fresh or frozen chopped onion
    1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    salt and pepper to taste

    Prepare rice according to package directions.

    Preheat oven to 375° F. Spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Unroll dough and make two large squares from each can, pressing seams to seal. Combine remaining ingredients with rice. Evenly divide mixture on dough squares. Pull up each corner of the dough towards the center, pressing to seal. Place on baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serves four.

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